Feral pigs Part III – Hunting helps protect Australia’s biodiversity

Feral pigs Part III – Hunting helps protect Australia’s biodiversity

A mob of pigs on the NT floodplain.

Lure of chasing pesky porkers entices hunters

Because of the huge amount of harm inflicted by feral pigs on crops, vegetation and the landscape across Australia, it makes them fair game for hunters. Indeed pig hunting or wild hog hunting is increasingly gaining popularity all over the world. Property owners are becoming infuriated with the wanton destruction caused by porkers so they are quite happy to enlist help from the all quarters as they look at ways to humanely thin the numbers of pigs.

Hunters are doing their bit to protect Australia’s biodiversity and pig hunting can be fun-filled and exciting, provided the right safety precautions are observed.

The pigs may behave with reckless abandon but some of their careless traits play into the hands of hunters who are primed to take advantage.

Similar to other various imported species, pigs thrive once they had gone walkabout throughout the Australian continent. One fascinating aspect is that pigs don’t actually like warm surrounds. They are destined to die in around six hours with no access to drinking water at above 30-degree Celsius temperature. Hunters can apply this information to implement positive strategies when reconnoitring water-holes, creeks, troughs and dams.

Understanding the habits of feral pigs is crucial to a carrying out a successful hunt. It is reckoned that killing by baits, trapping, shooting and hunting only can control 20 per of their population. They are itinerant beasts, who pay no attention to borders and roam freely. One day they can be running rampant over one property, the next minute, they have switched to a neighbouring pasture.

However, pigs do follow a degree of routine. Mostly they stick to well-worn trails when scavenging for food. The amount of pigs in a region can be roughly guessed at by wallows or by inspecting their tracks. Hunters can use their know-how to check whether the tracks are relatively new. If this is so, it’s an indication that the pigs are in close vicinity.

Feral pigs are boisterous beings. They emit vigorous snorts and grunts while consuming food or mating, so they are often straightforward to detect. Hunters can again benefit from this.

Pigs have a trusted sense of smell that can pick up aromas a great distance away. They also possess a well-trained pair of ears to work out sounds. These acute attributes can help to hasten them as far away from any impending dangers as they need to be. However, their eyesight is not up to par. This gives hunters another aspect to cash in on, especially in the time around and after dusk.

The most favourable time to hunt feral pigs in Australia is between the months of July and November, because of the weather patterns and temperature fluctuations. Australian surroundings are generally dry and temperate during these days when hunting is on the agenda. Clothing for treks in the bush is usually based around cotton and light garments. It is prudent to carry extra water and remember to wear a hat and apply sunscreen to combat the seering sun on any warmer outings.

Pig hunting in Australia can be a rollicking adventure and attracts followers born and bred in the countryside as well as city dwellers.

For anyone who has had their interest stirred about hunting feral pigs, remember that you need to possess a firearms licence before you go tracking the irksome intruders. So consult with your relevant local state authority or go to Australia’s largest hunting organisation at ssaa.org.au

A dangerous adversary that provides the perfect challenge

Sam Garro

Pig hunting, especially wild boars for their ivory tusks, has always held a special attraction for me stemming back some 45 years when I was 20 or younger. As a hunter, I rated them highly as a trophy animal. On the many hunting trips to properties in outback New South Wales, I always hoped to encounter a well-endowed boar with magical 30DP (Douglas Points) or more tusks, similar to those successful hunters I read so much about in the various and many shooting magazines. I guess the stories I read sparked the interest in me and my eventual quest to pursue them.

I’ve stalked feral pigs in all manner of terrain and weather conditions from tangled wiry lignum and cumbungi swamps to rocky escarpments and the floodplains of the Top End. And while I have shot my fair share of pigs over the years and have yet to procure such an exceptional boar, my enthusiasm and eagerness to pursue them has never diminished. The challenge rather keeps me motivated and wanting more.

In Australia there are three to four species of feral pigs, the main ones being the European (referred to at times as the razorback) and Asiatic pig. In later years I planned and hunted pigs in the Northern Territory, a much larger and tougher animal than its NSW cousin, although some of the mountain pigs in the NSW ranges can be real monsters. As a professional hunter (PH) on a guided hunt in Darwin pointed out, after my 6mm 87gn bullets proved inadequate ‑ you need a minimum pill of 150gn.

Of all medium to large game species, the wild boar, due to its brute and unattractive like appearance, potentially dangerous temperament, habits and destructive nature, also stands out as a worthy and challenging game animal to pursue.

The wild boar with its dagger like and very sharp protruding tusks, provides an element of danger or risk to the hunter, particularly if cornered, wounded or is protecting young, hence the main reason for hunters of varying persuasions over the centuries taking up the sport, albeit a potentially dangerous one at that. As an example, in India, during British rule, wild boar hunting was conducted from horseback using lances. Not all the hunts ended well.

Many of the hunting tribes that existed and still exist today in remote regions of the world, closer to home Timor and Papua New Guinea, not only pursue the wild pig as a food source but also for their tusks which are worn as jewellery items on their person, often also attesting to the hunter’s competency and status. I suppose the pursuits of the modern-day hunter in this regard have not changed.

Pig hunting can also be a tradition or practice carried on from generation to generation and celebrated by different cultures such as in Argentina and other parts of South America where risky pig-dogging is conducted using large bladed knives. In New Zealand pigs are hunted for their meat and the spoils shared within a family group, upholding a practice that also assists in maintaining a close kinship bond. In parts of Europe such as Germany, Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic driven wild boar hunts are a popular and a highly sought-after hunting activity with all game meat retrieved and suitably prepared for human consumption, with fine trophy specimens finding their way to the taxidermy.

On the commercial side, feral pigs have also been a desired meat product for the export market to places such as Germany where they are relished, the bigger and tougher the beast the greater the demand.

And then there is the pest control side. The damage they cause to crops and grain, paddocks and fields can be extensive, necessitating the implementation of drastic eradication measures.

So as can be seen, there are lots of reasons to pursue the feral pig and different hunting groups involved depending on the purpose, but for me it’s the challenge, the excitement of the hunt and chasing those spectacular ivories.

I have two wild boar shoulder mounts. The tusks are nothing special but they were taken more for the memories attached and the circumstances under which they were acquired.

A lone boar makes its way to a basin in the NT.
A tail-end of nine piglets their numbers can certainly multiply quickly.
Piglets uprooting and feeding on an open plain.
Sam’s trophy boar in the NT.
Sam with his boar shot in an artesian water basin in the NT.
Sam and a boar taken in the NT with Muckadilla Safaris.
Sam’s magnificent trophy boar mount.


Subscribe to the Great Australian Outdoors Magazine newsletter